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Heat is still a hazard for pets

ESCANABA — The dog days of summer are simmering down, and though the crisp temperatures of fall are approaching, summer temperatures are still hot enough for furry family members to feel uncomfortable.

Heat issues pets can experience through the summer months include skin and ear infections, injuries of sunburn and foot pad burns and illnesses like heat stroke and dehydration.

Escanaba and Thompson Veterinary Clinics have not seen many heat-related issues so far this summer.

“We have seen some pets come in with heat exhaustion from being outside too long,” said Thompson Veterinary Clinic Practice Manager Rachel Barnhizer. “Unlike previous years, we have not seen any pets come in with car-related issues.”

To keep pets healthy for the rest of the summer, here are some tips.

If you haven’t already, bring pets to the veterinarian for a check-up. The veterinarian will advise of any health issues your pets may have. Parasites that carry diseases are more active in the summer months and a veterinarian may suggest ways to keep your pet pest-free.

Do not light fireworks around your pets and discard them appropriately. Do not let your pets get too curious and start to eat one–they are poison to your pet. Chemicals used during the summer months should be stored properly. If you suspect your pet has ingested any poison call the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.

Eating outside is part of enjoying summer, but the food humans eat can be poisonous for pets. Pets cannot have alcohol, raisins, grapes, onions, chocolate, and products with the sweetener xylitol. While at a picnic take care of your pets and be proactive so your pet doesn’t get heat exhaustion, heat stroke or any heat-related injuries.

Pets can get dehydrated quickly. Signs of dehydration are dry gums and excessive drooling. Provide water and a shady spot for them to rest when it is hot and humid outside. Keep pets inside when it is extremely hot. Dogs and cats do not have the ability to sweat; they drink water and pant to regulate their body temperature. Consider feeding your pet moist food instead of dry for extra fluid in their diet when it is hot outside.

Dogs and cats like to sunbathe, but can overheat (especially dogs). Keep them off asphalt and cement surfaces for long periods of time and take short walks. Think about purchasing booties for your pet. Restrict exercise when temps soar and do not muzzle your dog as it impedes panting. Pets heat and cool from the bottom up. To cool them down quickly, spray water on their feet and bellies. If you are using a wet towel to cool them off it is better to rub their paws and stomach instead of their top coat. A way to help your cat through the heat and humidity is brushing them more often.

Your pet can get a summer haircut, but leave the hair one inch long all over. Their natural coat prevents sunburn. Apply sunscreen made for animals every three to four hours on bellies, ears and their nose, and animals with a light or short coat. Sunscreen and insect repellant can be purchased for pets.

Access to pools, lakes, and sprinklers allows pets to lower their body temperature by swimming or running through a sprinkler. Don’t leave pets alone around water, and slowly introduce them to water if they have not been in it before. Pets should wear a brightly colored life vest when riding on a boat. Do not allow your pet to ride in the back of a pickup truck on hot, humid days, the hot metal can burn their paws.

NEVER leave your pet in a parked vehicle — not even if it is parked in the shade, or you’re not going to be gone long. The inside of a vehicle can turn into an oven quickly and be deadly. If you see a pet inside a parked vehicle under dangerous conditions take action and look for the owner, even call the police.

A mild 70 degree day can turn a vehicle into a 90 degree oven with the windows closed after 10 minutes. After 30 minutes, it can be 104. An 80 degree day outside can be 99 degrees after 10 minutes in a vehicle, after 30 minutes, 114 degrees.

“People like to take their pets with them for a ride when driving,” said Barnhizer. “When they do they need to plan ahead and carry enough water with them for their pet, and not leave them in the car.”

Out of all the heat contributing problems a pet can get, heat stroke is the most dangerous. It can cause organ failure, seizures, brain damage, hemorrhages, blindness, convulsions and death.

As in humans, heat exhaustion comes before heat stroke. The symptoms of heat exhaustion are similar to heat stroke, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, panting rapidly, wobbly legs, and reddening inside the pet’s ears. If you see your pet presenting any of these symptoms get it to a cooler area and offer fresh cool water. Dampen their skin with lukewarm water and allow it to air-dry.

Signs of heat stroke are rapid panting, a bright red tongue, red or pale gums, thick or sticky saliva, depression, weakness, dizziness, vomiting – sometimes with blood, diarrhea, shock and a coma.

Pets that are overweight, with a heart disease, older in age, and with breathing problems are at a higher risk. Normal activities in the heat can be harmful for them.

Animals with a flat face, Persian cats, pugs and bulldogs, have a harder time panting out heat. These breeds do not tolerate heat as well as other breeds — English and French bulldogs, Boxers, Saint Bernards, pugs and shih tzus.

If your pet has symptoms of heat stroke act quickly by removing them from heat, into a cooler area and wet them thoroughly with cool to room temperature water and let air circulate around them. Do not use ice or very cold water, it may put them into shock.

Take them to the veterinarian. Dehydration is one complication of heat stroke. The veterinarian should watch the pet for shock, respiratory distress, kidney failure and heart abnormalities. Once a dog has a heat stroke it will be easier for it to get it again on a hot and humid day. The consequences may be irreversible if the heart, kidneys, lungs, or liver were effected.

When a dog or cat cannot keep it’s body temperature at a safe range they can get heat stroke. The normal body temperature is between 100 and 103 degrees. A temperature of 106 is deadly and a veterinarian’s assistance is needed.

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